HUDDERSFIELD may have far more underground tunnels than anyone could possibly imagine.
We’ve run several stories about the tunnels discovered beneath the streets in the King Street and Cross Church Street area of the town centre.
It all began when underground rooms were discovered by workmen investigating a manhole cover in the cellar of Herbert’s Bar on Cross Church Street during preparatory work for the proposed £40m extension to the neighbouring Kingsgate retail centre.
This discovery led to much intrigue and Examiner readers have come forward with a wide range of theories about how they were used.
But Examiner reader Jean Winn from Scapegoat Hill has given the issue a whole new perspective for she has a set of old pamphlets dating back to the 1940s called The Legends and Traditions of Huddersfield and its District.
They were collected by a keen local historian called Philip Ahier and reveal there may be secret underground passageways all over the area – with several supposedly starting from Castle Hill.
And the pamphlets reveal how some had been explored including those under King Street and another leading from Newhouse Hall to Lower Felgreave Wood.
Philip recalls a man exploring tunnels beneath King Street, writing: “He assured me that with the help of a rope he had travelled in a winding passage which he stated brought him under Queen Street Methodist Church. He averred that in these passages were “rats the size of cats and cobwebs the size or motor car wheels.’’
The Examiner had a report about a group of young men who in 1932 stumbled into the former vaults of Messrs George Rhodes and Co Wine and Spirit Merchants (1815-1868). They had gone in through an entrance behind a cellar door at Messrs Hagenbach’s shop on Market Walk and a trap door in a yard.
The Examiner report at the time stated: “The floor, walls and ceiling are all sound and quite dry. There is one big vault at the bottom of the steps and from it on the top side there are a few short corridors.
“On the bottom side leading down in the direction of King Street towards the Pack Horse Yard are the longest passages. The vaults lie in the form of a rectangle about 40 yards by 12 yards with the two long sides going down towards the Pack Horse Yard and the two short ones joining them. Across one corner a wall has been built but through it is a hole from which one can see down the other passage.’’
And in terms of the Newhouse Hall passage he wrote: “There was until about 1925 a definite subterranean passage from Newhouse Hall to the adjacent wood.
“Its entrance lay in the kitchen of the building and led, so tradition related, to some considerable distance underground.’’
In late Elizabethan days this passage was supposed to have been used as a means of exit from Newhouse Hall by Catholic priests who had received food and protection from its owners during the period of the persecution of the Catholics by the Protestants (1582-1587).
But it gets even more intriguing with Philip writing that the passage was explored by a Mr T P Crosland who lived at the hall, but he only went around 30ft and never found the entrance into the woods before the lack of fresh air forced them back and the entrance was then sealed for good.
But Philip added: “Mr Crosland then decided to close permanently the entrance to the cellar kitchen leading to the tunnel as at times there were noxious smells emanating from it and, so his housekeeper informed me, because this cellar was associated with two murders which were supposed to have taken place at Newhouse Hall.”
Philip’s list of passages includes: Castle Hill to Deadmanstone
Castle Hill to St Helen’s Gate at Almondbury
Castle Hill to King Street at the bottom of Castlegate
Fixby Hall to the Orangery and Fixby Hall to the Ice House on the 11th green – but Philip explored them in 1929 and decided the hole was no more than a cavity.
Whitley Hall to the summer house (sometimes known as the Temple) which Philip explored in 1933 and decided it was an underground cellar used to store wine.
Almondbury Parish Church to Fenay Hall
Almondbury Parish Church to St Helen’s Gate
Armitage Bridge (Brooke’s Wood) to Meltham
Little London at Elland to the parish church at Elland
One under Beaumont Park explored by two men in 1940 who found a hole leading to a small cave and then three tunnels, but did not go deeper into them.
Under King Street to the River Colne
Linthwaite Hall to Kitchen Fold
Shepley Old Hall to a building known as the Abbey